Commercial banks in Rwanda have been perennially accused of charging exorbitant interest rates despite the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) ensuring a monetary policy that makes them operate thriving businesses.
The latest development is the revising downwards of the key repo rate that was announced yesterday.
The rate was reduced from 6.50 percent to 6.25 for the first quarter of 2017.
The key repo rate is the interest rate banks pay when they borrow for the central bank.
One would have expected commercial banks to take the cue from there and reduce their interest rates (some charge as much as 20 percent on commercial loans). That is hardly the case as their rates have remained high.
Their argument has been that Rwanda’s poor savings culture, coupled with high risk and expensive rates they pay to external lenders as factors holding them down, causing low liquidity.
Most of the banks’ clients are lay people; they do not understand the intricacies of the financial markets. They have no idea what liquidity and long-term savings has to do with their easily getting loans and getting favourable interest rates.
So, if banks have genuine intentions to create a win-win situation, then they should hit the ground running and take the message to the people. Let them sensitise their clients on the importance of savings by coming up with attractive packages.
If BNR is of the view that the financial sector is; “stable, profitable and capable of withstanding external shocks”, why can’t commercial banks give something back to their loyal clients?
Let banks speak a language that everyone understands, for as it stands now, it is a conversation among the deaf.